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Japan's insularity

Saturday November 27 2004 08:36 IST

By Karmayogi

Those who live on an island are not easily attacked by their enemies, as the ocean on all sides is a barrier. That barrier is a protection. That self-same protection makes the population of the island insular.

Therefore, no outside influence readily reaches them. They are insulated from the influence of the external life.

Over the years, it gives the islanders a pride that they will not let in outside forces, ideas, religions, fashions, etc. The natural protection of the seas gives rise to an unnatural pride, a pride that is partly born out of ignorance.

In this sense, Japan was insular for centuries. Gradually, she began to believe that she was a sacred race, as the sun had dawned on them first. The Samurai tradition of heroism and loyalty came to be venerated, giving them a feeling that they were outstanding in any sense of the word.

In the last century, tradition began to be aggressive. No Japanese was permitted to leave the shores of Japan. To give a map of Japan to a foreigner would attract capital punishment. Dress regulations, especially for women, if flouted would be punished. The woman would be stripped naked and paraded thus.

These are obviously the excesses. The wave moves by an undulating motion. The unmoving sheet of water is quiet. The wave rises and falls. The rise and fall causes the movement. There is no movement without that rise and fall.

Civilisation marches ahead through a wave motion of alternating peak and trough. The same Japan that was so insular earlier has now conquered the world market in several products. They have set up their industries in China, USA and India. They have learnt English. They are no longer insular in the measure they seek business.

It is a rule of life that the insularity should lead to excessive outgoing behaviour in the next phase. Britain that ruled the whole world is now nowhere. They could rule the world, as they were ruled for a thousand years by various European powers. America was isolationist in the 19th century.

On Friday the reverse is true. She is all over the world. All the races on earth have come to the US. The caterpillar that is in the cocoon for long flies everywhere as a butterfly. Women who were confined to the kitchen are now filling all the offices in good measure.

Buddha who went inside in tapas for forty years came out with Buddhism that spread all over India, Ceylon, China, Japan, etc. Insularity is the precursor to immense popularity. Indian spirituality has long been confined to tapas and the forest.

It is time it emerges in LIFE and embraces all humanity all over the globe.
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